Sherri Graves Smith’s life has evolved in ways she never imagined over the last eight years.
After being diagnosed with stage IV cancer at the age of 36, Smith, who was serving as in-house counsel for the Coca-Cola Company, wasn’t sure what to do next.
“I evolved into writing children’s books, and it came as a result of my volunteer work,” said the Tuscumbia, Alabama, native. “I resumed reading to children while undergoing chemotherapy treatments, and I found myself thinking about the stories and the lessons in them. My imagination was sparked, and I became inspired to become a children’s book author.
“Around that time, an Alabama fan poisoned trees on Auburn’s campus, and I was very disturbed by that. I am a graduate of Alabama, and I thought it set a terrible example. I wanted to teach manners and good sportsmanship in a light-hearted and fun way. I decided to use team mascots and have them teach those lessons in the context of a game day.”
That decision evolved into the Game Day Rules, a series of books about manners and sportsmanship, as well as dealing with life and its ups and downs.
“I have over 50 schools all over the country,” Smith said. “That is very exciting when I think that I started out with one book in 2012. I am emerging into HBCU books with the Magic City Classic and Southern Heritage Classic. Those books feature a battle of the bands and a parade. I would love to expand to the HBCU series and go into the NFL.”
Smith, who is a self-proclaimed nut for college sports, especially football started the series by focusing on well-known teams.
“When I started with the Game Day Rules series, I picked bitter rivalries like the ones between Alabama and Auburn, Ohio State and Michigan State, then I moved to basketball like North Carolina and Duke,” she said.
“I have an alphabet and counting series where I actually take sports traditions and sports facts and make them rhyme to teach. I spend a lot of time researching this…It gives me something fun and constructive to do with my time,” she said.
In addition to the Game Day series, Smith recently launched a new series entitled Lil’ Sherri, which looks at life through the eyes of Smith as a six-year-old. All her books offer messages she hopes will resonate with readers.
“I have been going through cancer for eight years. I think a lot about the legacy I want to leave and for what meaning I want for my life to have,” she said. “My books are meant to be tongue-in-cheek, light-hearted and witty but with a lesson that is meaningful, universal and endearing. I like that Game Day Rules is not just about manners and good sportsmanship, but dealing with life and its ups and downs. I hope those lessons can bring meaning into a child’s life and stay with him or her as they mature.”
To learn more about Sherri Graves Smith and purchase her books, visit www.gamedayrules.com.